Bridgend's Jamie Murphy holds off Bristol's Luke Eves
Bridgend Ravens went down to a clinical but ill-disciplined Bristol as the English side ran out 8-32 winners at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field.
The visitors clinched a bonus point and remain top of Pool 1 and unbeaten in the British & Irish Cup, thanks to tries from Alafoti Fa'Osiliva, George Watkins and two from pacey winger Matt Williams.
Rhys Ward Jones grabbed the late consolation score for the Ravens at the end of a second half that saw referee Kieran Barry hand out four yellow cards.
Bridgend had the better of the opening possession and territory and showed some enterprising play early on but failed to register anything on the scoreboard. As a result of this and somewhat against the run of play, the visitors got the first try of the game when Fa'Osiliva powered his way over the line after a strong driving lineout. Adrian Jarvis converted for the first of his 12 points of the afternoon and suddenly the Ravens found themselves 0-7 down.
Jamie Murphy slotted over a gift of a penalty minutes later to reduce the gap to four points but Jarvis cancelled out his effort and added another three on the half-hour mark. The Ravens' defence showed some great determination minutes later to survive a powerful Bristol drive and ensure that the gap was a manageable 10 points when the half-time whistle arrived.
The gap was distinctly less manageable just seconds into the second period. Bristol scrum half Tom Slater picked up from the base of a ruck and noticed the space on the blind side, accelerating left and presenting the ball to winger Watkins to touchdown in the corner.
The next 10 minutes saw Bridgend pushing to find a way back into the game and forcing Bristol to concede several penalties. Murphy broke through a gap to send a ripple of anticipation through the stand but his support was limited and the Bristol defence soon reorganised to close down the danger. When the resulting scrum broke down, referee Barry lost his patience with the visitors and went to his pocket to send Gaston Cortes to the bin. It was to be the Argentinian's last contribution to the game, as he failed to re-take the field when his 10 minutes were up.
Being reduced to 14 didn't appear to worry the men in red and white as they scored their third try of the match five minutes later. Speedster Williams looked to have aimed for a gap that didn't exist but the winger somehow shrugged his way through and showed a clean pair of heels to cross the whitewash in the corner.
Bristol hooker Rhys Lawrence and Ravens scrum half Tom Habberfield both felt the wrath of the referee with 20 minutes remaining and the extra space again seemed to benefit the English side. The Bristol scrum had looked extremely powerful all afternoon and after winning another against the head, replacement scrum half James Grindal spotted the space that Williams was in and handed him the ball for the winger to secure the bonus point with an exuberant dive in the corner.
Williams would have been forgiven for taking the last 10 minutes easy but when Ravens' winger Luke Morgan sped through a gap and looked certain to score, it was the Bristol number 11 that sprinted from the other side of the pitch to prevent the try.
As the Bridgend forwards worked hard to keep the pressure up, Jack Tovey became the third Bristol player to receive a yellow card but soon afterwards, Ward Jones showed some great skill to restore some pride to the home dressing room.
Bridgend Ravens (3) 8
Try: R Ward Jones Pen: J Murphy
Bristol Rugby (13) 32
Try: A Fa'Osiliva, G Watkins, M Williams 2 Con: A Jarvis 3 Pen: A Jarvis 2
Bridgend Ravens: B Thomas, L Morgan, N Edwards, S Campbell, A Evans, J Murphy, T Habberfield, K Dowding, A James, J Thomas, S O'Rourke, A Jones, A Waite, J Vaughan (c), S Hicks
Subs: C Francis for S O'Rourke (69), G Carpenter for K Dowding (76), L Davies for A Jones (59), A Ellis for A Waite (68), S Winn, R Ward Jones for T Habberfield (74), C Williams for B Thomas (63)
Bristol Rugby: J Tovey, G Watkins, L Eves, B Mosses, M Williams, A Jarvis, T Slater, K Traynor, R Lawrence, G Cortes, B Glynn, G Townson, I Grieve (c), M Mama, A Fa'Osiliva
Subs: T Channon for J Tovey then R Lawrence (59 then 78), M Lilley for K Traynor (69), W Thompson for A Fa'Osiliva then G Cortes (51 then 59), G Biagi for G Townson (57), M Eadie for M Mama (78), J Grindal for T Slater (61), T Roberts for B Mosses (69)
Sin-bin:Bridgend: T Habberfield (60) Bristol: G Cortes (49), R Lawrence (57), J Tovey (78)
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We watch the new grass growing and being stitched together in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We speak to Millennium Stadium groundsman Lee Evans, Wales great Ieuan Evans gives an overview on the new strategy announced by head of rugby Josh Lewsey, while we also hear from Bedwas, Aberavon and Carmarthen Quins in the Principality Premiership.
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The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a nationwide education programme, to help all involved in the game to recognise and remove' players with concussion. Interview with WRU National Medical Manager Prav Mathema.
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